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Trouble with globally installed Firefox extensions after software upgrade in Ubuntu

Some time ago Ubuntu 10.04 LTS received a Firefox update from the 3.6 branch to the more recent versions (10.0+).

After that upgrade, Firefox on one of my Ubuntu systems suddenly appeared in English instead of the correct locale (German in my case). I first thought that this might be a problem with some localization packages not being installed correctly. However, the problem persisted after upgrading the system to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

Some globally extensions (in particular the language pack) showed up in an old version in the add-ons list, although the newest version was installed. Finally I found out, that Firefox looks for the extensions in /usr/lib/firefox/extensions. The new language packs however had been installed in /usr/lib/firefox-addons/extensions. On other systems, /usr/lib/firefox/extensions is a symbol link to /usr/lib/firefox-addons/extensions. In my case however the directory existed and contained the files from the old versions of the language packs.

For some reasons, the old language packs (which had different package names) had not been removed and thus the Firefox upgrade did not place the symbol link (because the directory was not empty). After manually removing the old versions of the language packs, deleting the directory and reinstalling Firefox, the symbol link was created automatically and suddenly the globally installed Firefox add-ons worked again.